due process

Chavez-Meza v. United States

Issues 

Is a district court deciding not to grant a post-sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) in proportion to the amended Federal Sentencing Guidelines required to provide an explanation, or is no explanation necessary so long as the court uses a preprinted form order that provides a policy statement and certifies the applicable sentencing factors?

 

The Supreme Court will decide whether a court, in deciding not to grant a discretionary post-judgment sentencing revision under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) in proportion to the amended Federal Sentencing Guidelines, must provide an explanation or can issue its decision through a preprinted form order containing standardized language. The Fourth, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits have held that § 3582(c)(2) does not require a judge to provide an explanation when refusing to grant a motion for a proportional sentencing reduction in accordance with the amended Guidelines. The Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, however, have found that judges are required to explain sentencing revision decisions. Petitioner Chavez-Meza argues that a judge must provide some explanation for a disproportional sentencing reduction when the reasons for the decision are not apparent from the record. Respondent United States argues that judges can use preprinted forms when granting sentencing revisions that are disproportional to the Guideline revisions, as long as the form order contains standardized language stating that the court has considered the policy and applicable factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). This case will clarify the extent to which application of the amended Guidelines reflects a bipartisan shift away from punitive sentences for drug offenses.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether, when a district court decides not to grant a proportional sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), it must provide some explanation for its decision when the reasons are not otherwise apparent from the record, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits have held, or whether it can issue its decision without any explanation so long as it is issued on a preprinted form order containing the boilerplate language providing that the court has “tak[en] into account the policy statement set forth in U.S.S.G. § lBl.10 and the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), to the extent that they are applicable," as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Circuits have held.

Following an investigation and sting operation in 2012, federal authorities arrested Petitioner Adaucto Chavez-Meza on charges of conspiring with the Sinaloa Cartel to distribute methamphetamine in the United States.

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Additional Resources 

Jody Godoy, Judges to Weigh Resentencing Under New Guidelines, Law360 (January 16, 2018)

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Jennings v. Rodriguez (updated)

Issues 

Did the Ninth Circuit err in deciding that non-citizens who are subject to mandatory detention while seeking admission to the United States must be granted bond hearings at six month intervals throughout their detention and are entitled to release unless the government meets its burden by demonstrating that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community? 

[UPDATE] The Supreme Court heard oral argument for this case and requested additional briefing. The Court received the requested briefing and re-set the case for additional argument during the 2017-2018 term.

In this case, the Supreme Court will determine whether immigrants to the United States, who are being detained under civil immigration detention statutes, must be brought before an immigration judge for a bond hearing at six month intervals throughout their detention and whether the immigration judge must consider alternatives to a detained immigrant’s prolonged detention if the government fails to show through clear and convincing evidence that the immigrant is a flight risk or danger to the community. David Jennings et al. argue that statutory language and congressional intent prohibit immigration judges from releasing non-citizens detained under the civil immigration detention statutes on bond. Meanwhile, Alejandro Rodriguez et al. argue that Congress did not authorize prolonged detention through the immigration statutes and that without periodic bond hearings or the government’s justification of continued detention, individuals would be needlessly deprived of their liberty. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will impact detained non-citizen’s constitutional rights and their ability to exercise their legal rights during removal proceedings.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Under 8 U.S.C. 1225(b), inadmissible aliens who arrive at our Nation’s borders must be detained, without a bond hearing, during proceedings to remove them from the country. Under 8 U.S.C. 1226(c), certain criminal and terrorist aliens must be detained, without a bond hearing, during removal proceedings. Under 8 U.S.C. 1226(a), other aliens may be released on bond during their removal proceedings, if the alien demonstrates that he is not a flight risk or a danger to the community. 8 C.F.R. 236.1(c)(8). Aliens detained under Section 1226(a) may receive additional bond hearings if circumstances have changed materially. 8 C.F.R. 1003.19(e).

  1. Whether aliens seeking admission to the United States who are subject to mandatory detention under Section 1225(b) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release into the United States, if detention lasts six months
  2. Whether criminal or terrorist aliens who are subject to mandatory detention under Section 1226(c) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release, if detention lasts six months.
  3. Whether, in bond hearings for aliens detained for six months under Sections 1225(b), 1226(c), or 1226(a), the alien is entitled to release unless the government demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community; whether the length of the alien’s detention must be weighed in favor of release; and whether new bond hearings must be afforded automatically every six months.

Alejandro Rodriguez, Abdirizak Aden Farah, Jose Farias Cornejo, Yussuf Abdikadir, Abel Perez Ruelas, and Efren Orozco are all non-citizens who sued in a class action challenging their prolonged detentions without individualized bond hearings or re-evaluations of the reasons for their continued detention under civil immigration detention statutes. See Rodriguez v. Robbins, No.

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Acknowledgments 

Original Preview by Reymond Yamine and Natalie San Juan.

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Class v. United States

Issues 

Does a guilty plea inherently waive a defendant’s right to challenge the constitutionality of the statute underlying his conviction unless that right is explicitly preserved in the plea agreement?

This case will allow the Supreme Court to clarify the appellate rights of criminal defendants who have pled guilty and subsequently want to challenge the constitutionality of their statute of conviction. Circuit courts have been divided on the subject. Petitioner, Class, argues that the Court should apply the precedent set in Blackledge v. Perry and Menna v. New York to his case by holding that constitutional challenge claims do not challenge a defendant’s factual guilt or dispute whether the government met every burden of proving each element of the crime, and therefore are not precluded by pleading guilty. Respondent, the United States, argues that a constitutional challenge to a defendant’s statute of conviction is inherently waived in a guilty plea as an aspect of his factual guilt unless it is expressly preserved in his plea agreement. With this decision, the Supreme Court will determine the constitutional rights of all criminal defendants who plead guilty and likely impact the role guilty pleas play in United States jurisprudence.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether a guilty plea inherently waives defendant’s right to challenge the constitutionality of his statute of conviction.

On May 30, 2013, Petitioner Rodney Class (“Class”) parked his Jeep, which contained guns and ammunition, in a parking lot located on the Capitol grounds on the 200 block of Maryland Avenue, SW in Washington D.C. See Brief for Petitioner, Rodney Class at 4–5. While Class visited the Capitol buildings, a police officer noticed a Jeep without the permit required to park in the lot and saw a blade and gun holster inside.

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Civil Forfeiture

Overview

Civil forfeiture occurs when the government seizes property under suspicion of its involvement in illegal activity. Such a proceeding is conducted in rem, or against the property itself, rather than in personam, or against the owner of the property; by contrast, criminal forfeiture is an in personam proceeding. For this reason, civil forfeiture case names often appear strange, such as United States v. Eight Rhodesian Stone Statues,

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County

Issues 

Does a court have the power to adjudicate a case when the case is not causally connected to a defendant’s in-state conduct?

In this case, the Supreme Court will determine whether courts have specific jurisdiction over defendants only when the case arises out of conduct that is causally connected to a defendant’s in-state conduct. The case comes before the Supreme Court after Bristol-Myers Squibb was sued in California for manufacturing a defective anticoagulant, despite having manufactured the anticoagulant in New Jersey and having only a transient connection with California. Bristol-Myers Squibb argues that the California court lacks power to adjudicate this case, because the company’s conduct in California is not causally connected to the plaintiffs’ injuries. California Superior Court, on the other hand, argues that specific jurisdiction does not require proof of causation. Much is at stake in this action: some assert that California’s victory would result in gross injustice to defendants; others claim that BMS’s victory would cause judicial resources to be squandered with duplicative litigation.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether a plaintiff ’s claims arise out of or re-late to a defendant’s forum activities when there is no causal link between the defendant’s forum contacts and the plaintiff ’s claims—that is, where the plaintiff ’s claims would be exactly the same even if the defendant had no forum contacts?

Defendant Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (“BMS”) manufactures anticoagulants—drugs meant to inhibit blood clotting. See Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Super. Ct. of San Francisco Cty., S221038, at 2 (Cal. Aug. 29, 2016).

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McDaniel v. Brown

Issues 

What is the standard of review for analyzing a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim under Jackson v. Virginia? May a federal habeas court admit nonrecord evidence to determine the reliability of testimony and evidence given at trial?

 

Following a state conviction for sexual assault, Troy Brown (“Brown”) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. The District Court allowed Brown to present new evidence: a report from Dr. Lawrence Mueller. This report detailed a statistical error (“prosecutor’s fallacy”) made by the prosecution during the presentation of DNA evidence. Based on Dr. Mueller’s report, the District Court dismissed the DNA evidence from consideration, found insufficient evidence to convict Brown, and ordered a retrial. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. Petitioner, Warden E.K. McDaniel (“McDaniel”), argues that, under Jackson v. Virginias sufficiency-of-the-evidence standard, a district court may not supplement the trial record. Additionally, McDaniel asserts that the District Court’s analysis was not sufficiently deferential to the state court. Brown agrees with McDaniel that the Ninth Circuit improperly applied Jackson. Brown, however, argues that the lower courts analyzed his case as a due process violation, and, as such, a retrial is  the proper remedy  to correct flawed DNA evidence.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

1. What is the standard of review for a federal habeas court for analyzing a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)?

2. Does analysis of a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim pursuant to Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979), under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) permit a federal habeas court to expand the record or consider nonrecord evidence to determine the reliability of testimony and evidence given at trial?

In the early hours of January 29, 1994, a nine-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in the bedroom of her home. See Brown v. State, 934 P.2d 235, 237 (Nev.

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Acknowledgments 

Additional Resources 

·      Jonathan J. Koehler: One in Millions, Billions, Trillions: Lessons from People v. Collins (1968) for People v. Simpson (1995) (Apr. 2006)

·      New York Times: The Prosecutor’s Fallacy (May 16, 2007)

·      Science & Law Blog, Law Professors Blog Network: The Transposition Fallacy in Brown v. Farwell (May 30, 2008)

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Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut

Issues 

Court below: 

 

In 1998, the small town of New London, Connecticut saw a dramatic turnaround in its economic fate when pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced its development of a waterfront global research facility in the city's Fort Trumbull area. New London created a development corporation to revitalize the area around the new facility, and granted this entity the power of eminent domain. This power has long enabled governments to condemn–essentially take–private property for "public use," so long as they conform to due process and provide just compensation. In this case, the development corporation filed condemnation proceedings against the petitioners in an attempt to condemn their homes–some of which had been in their families for over a century. This property was to be used to create an office park, a parking lot, and a new park. This case tests the limits of the government's power to take private property for "public use" under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution in circumstances when the "use" is largely commercial.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

What protection does the Fifth Amendment's public use requirement provide for individuals whose property is being condemned, not to eliminate slums or blight, but for the sole purpose of "economic development" that will perhaps increase tax revenues and improve the local economy?

New London, Connecticut is a small historic whaling port comprising six square miles and providing a home to approximately 25,000 residents. See City of New London website at http://ci.new-london.ct.us/index.html (last checked on February 7, 2005). 

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Turner v. United States

Issues 

What standard applies to the materiality of evidence withheld from criminal defendants by the government in order to assess whether a due process violation occurred, and should that standard differ based on the strength of the government’s case?  

This case will address whether certain undisclosed evidence falls under the standard for prosecutorial disclosures as described by Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The defendants, Russell Overton and Charles Turner, were convicted of a murder that occurred in 1984 and contend that several pieces of evidence were improperly withheld by the prosecution, resulting in a violation of their Fifth Amendment right to due process. The United States asserts that the evidence in question does not fall within the scope of the Brady standard, and therefore no post-conviction relief is required. The outcome of this case will further articulate the standards of materiality, favorability, and suppression under Brady and elucidate what information a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to know before trial.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether petitioners' convictions must be set aside under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

Christopher and Charles Turner, Clifton Yarborough, Kevin Smith, Levy Rouse, and Timothy Catlett were convicted for the 1984 murder of Catherine Fuller. Turner v. United States, Nos. 12-CO-1362, 12-CO-1538, 12-CO1539, 12-CO-1540, 12-CO-1541, 12-CO-1542 & 12-CO-1543, at 14 (D.C. Cir. June 11, 2015).

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Jones v. Flowers

Issues 

When mailed notice of a tax sale or property forfeiture is returned undelivered, is the government required to take additional steps to locate the owner before taking the property?

Court below: 

 

The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires the government to give “reasonably calculated” notice to inform an affected party of an upcoming governmental proceeding. The issue before the Court is whether, when mailed notice of a tax sale or property forfeiture is returned undelivered, due process requires the government to take additional steps to locate the owner before taking the property. A holding that the government is required to take additional steps may subject the government to significant administrative burdens and undermine the process of transferring property rights. A holding that due process does not require the government to take additional steps may make property from tax sales more transferable, but may also deprive property owners of their constitutional right to due process.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

When mailed notice of a tax sale or property forfeiture is returned undelivered, does due process require the government to make any additional effort to locate the owner before taking the property?

 

In 1967 Gary Jones purchased a house in Little Rock, Arkansas. When he and his wife separated in 1993, his wife stayed in the house and he moved to a new address. Jones did not notify the tax authority of his new address. After both Joneses failed to pay taxes on the house, the Commissioner of State Lands sent a notice to Gary Jones’ last known address via certified mail. The notice stated that the property would be subject to a public sale if Jones did not pay the delinquent taxes and penalties.

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Irizarry v. United States

Issues 

Is a district court required to provide a defendant with notice of its intent to depart from the sentence range established by the United States Sentencing Guidelines, if the grounds for departure are not identified in either the presentence investigation report or the Government's presentencing hearing submissions?

 

In 2001 Leah Smith obtained a divorce from and restraining against her former husband, Richard Irizarry, for spousal abuse. Between the divorce in 2001 and 2003, Irizarry sent Ms. Smith 255 e-mails, several threatening to kill Ms. Smith and her family. In 2003, Irizarry was arrested. Irizarry pleaded guilty to making threatening interstate communications to his ex-wife. As a result, he was sentenced to sixty months imprisonment, a sentence nine months longer than the maximum sentence recommended by Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The district court sentenced Irizarry to the maximum amount of time allow under the statute, because of the likelihood Irizarry would continue threatening his ex-wife. Irizarry objected to the sentence because the court failed to give advance notice of its intent to depart upward from the sentencing guidelines as required by Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 32(h) ("Rule 32(h)"). On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentence, determining that Rule 32(h) does not apply to such sentence variances. In the Supreme Court, Irizarry argues that his sentence should be overturned because Rule 32(h) requires a district court to give the parties notice any time it intends to depart from the sentencing range recommended by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, on a ground not previously identified in the presentence report or a government submission.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(h), and the holding in Burns v.United States, 501 U.S. 129 (1991) requiring a court to provide reasonable notice to the parties that it is contemplating a departure from the applicable sentencing guideline range on a ground not identified for departure either in the presentence report or in a party's prehearing submission, has any continuing application in light of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).
Richard Irizarry married Leah Smith in 1995. Irizarry was physically and mentally abusive to Smith and their son. In 2000, Smith left Irizarry and moved across the country and, in 2001, divorced Irizarry and obtained a restraining order against him. See United States v. Irizarry, 458 F.3d 1208, 1210 (11th Cir. 2006). That year, Irizarry was arrested and sent to jail for violating the restraining order after he arrived at Smith's new apartment. See Brief of United States in Opposition to Writ of Certiorari at 3.

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